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Analyzing Gingrich’s comeback

For closer followers of the GOP race for prez, the question of the moment is whether Newt Gingrich will experience the same sudden rise followed by a sudden fall as have the other candidates who have briefly been declared to be the chief alternative to perpetual co-frontrunner Mitt Romney.

Political Scientist Charles Franklin of the University of Wisconsin and of “Polls and Votes,” notes some significant differences between Gingrich and the other anybody-but-Romneys. For one, Gingrich started out, along with Romney, as the only two Repubs with high name recognition. And, of course, it has stayed high.

Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann were all relatively new names to a lot of the electorate and experienced a sudden spike in name recognition that coincided with a spike in their poll ratings and their favorability. Seems pretty clear that a lot of Repub voters searching for a non-Romney briefly embraced someone relatively unknown to them, then fled when they learned more about the person, or when gaffes or scandals punctured the balloons.

It’s certainly possible that the same will happen to Gingrich. He produces plenty of controversial statements and has a number of scandals circling around him that his current enthusiasts may or may not have fully considered. But the other thing that Franklin notes is that — looking at the poll measure of “net favorability — Gingrich has made a slow, steady rise (after the disastrous rollout and dismal beginning of his presidential campaign).

I guess these differences at least raise the possibility that Gingrich is the non-Romney who will last. although I personally make no such prediction.

It is impressive that the two-thirds to three-quarters of the Republican electorate that is resistant to Romney seems willing to at least flirt with so many different alternatives, even as the Repub establishment keeps telling them that Romney is the only plausible president in the field and their best chance to beat Obama.

Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/28/2011 - 11:56 am.

    “…Seems pretty clear that a lot of Repub voters searching for a non-Romney briefly embraced someone relatively unknown to them, then fled when they learned more about the person, or when gaffes or scandals punctured the balloons.

    It’s certainly possible that the same will happen to Gingrich…”

    Indeed, it’s possible. Compared to some of the others, Mr. Gingrich has considerably more skeletons in his closet, and while his name recognition may well be higher than some of the others, it’s worth considering the light in which his name is recognized. For a lot of people, the name Gingrich doesn’t conjure up very positive memories or images.

    I do think it’s interesting – my choice of words over “impressive” – that so many Republicans are so resistant to the guy the party establishment keeps telling them is the most electable. Obviously, there’s a significant disconnect there, and I have no idea how the current flailing-about for “anyone but Romney” will play itself out as the primary season unfolds. Many of the crop of GOP candidates have a small but dedicated base that’s not enough to win them the nomination, but is enough to get them through the doors of the various “debates.” I confess I don’t recall any previous campaigns, by either party, that featured so many of these “debates,” though the term is hardly an accurate one in the context of how these political events have been staged.

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 11/28/2011 - 01:03 pm.

    A right wing critique of Gingrich:


    For now, I really need to vent. I am absolutely flabbergasted at what I see in the latest Republican polls for president. What I see looks like a mass political suicide attempt — so determined to commit suicide that it uses too many pills, plus a slit wrist, plus a gun, on the ledge of a 1,000-foot building, just to make sure that at least one of the methods succeeds.

    What I’m talking about is the rise of Newt Gingrich to the front of the Republican pack. If this isn’t mass suicide, is mass amnesia of a particularly dangerous variety. And, politically speaking, if it continues it will be an absolute guarantee of Barack Obama’s re-election next fall….

    ….to reconfirm the definition of Gingrich that has prevailed for most of the past 16 years, which is that of a brilliant but disagreeable and somewhat smarmy, overwhelmingly cynical political operative.

    (end quote)

    From Quin Hillyer at

    Read it, it lays out the flaws of a Gingrich candidacy.

    He perfectly summarized in his own monumental egotism in his own statement: “It doesn’t matter what I do… People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”

  3. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/28/2011 - 03:13 pm.

    Gingrinch’s name recognition is the good news and the bad news. It will be interesting to see if he can respond effectively to all the negative ads that the Romneyites will through at the targets which the Newt’s history presents.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/28/2011 - 06:49 pm.

    “I do think it’s interesting – my choice of words over “impressive” – that so many Republicans are so resistant to the guy the party establishment keeps telling them is the most electable.”

    First of all, there is no “party establishment.” What people are calling the party establishment are really the east coast press and the DC chattering class. The same people who gave us John McCain because “only a reasonable republican could win.”

    The conservative movement is not supporting Romney because we want the republican party to be the conservative party in this country. He’s smart enough to recognize that and has tried to wear a conservative costume throughout this campaign, but he hasn’t fooled anyone. We already have one liberal party in this campaign, we don’t need two.

    In the 2010 elections, the conservative movement was responsible for the largest turnover in congress in 70 years.

    I was a foot soldier and a card-carrying member of the VRWC in 1994. Gingrich led the movement that resulted in a massive congressional republican takeover when the party assumed control of both chambers of congress for the first time in forty years. He’s ready to lead that charge again and we’re ready to follow.

  5. Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 11/28/2011 - 07:43 pm.

    What I find interesting is the intellectual dishonesty this exemplifies for the GOP. Gingrich is the spiritual grandfather of the individual mandate, and the front runner. Romney was the father of th individual mandate, and he is up there too. Obama took their conservative ideas of the mandate and made Obamacare. It is pretty evident policy has nothing to do with their dislike of Obama. support of Gingrich and Romney make that pretty clear.

  6. Submitted by Joe Musich on 11/28/2011 - 07:46 pm.

    But haven’t the gop candidate of the moment kept the electorate distracted from the issues?

  7. Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 11/29/2011 - 01:03 pm.

    Heh, Gingrich led the way to epic spending for a decade and the most amount of scandals in congress ever. Principled conservatism indeed. Oh, he also championed the individual mandate (communism).

  8. Submitted by Roy Everson on 11/29/2011 - 02:25 pm.

    If you are looking for another reason to predict Gingrich has staying power, here you are: Starting in 1948 the GOP has nominated, with only one exception being Goldwater in ’64, only candidates with highest name recognition, candidates who had run before nationally. (Dems are often quite different.) Holding national office in the ’90s qualifies Gingrich, running before qualifies Romney and Paul. And that is about who is left.

  9. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/29/2011 - 03:51 pm.

    Hmmm… “I was a foot soldier and a card-carrying member…” has a certain Stalinist aura about it. In any case, I hope Mr. Tester will enlighten us as to the decoded meaning of VRWC. “Voters Responsible for W’s Coronation?”

    There’s nothing – n-o-t-h-i-n-g – very admirable about Mr. Gingrich, so I find it hard to argue with the right-wing critique, and self-condemning quotes by the “party intellectual” himself, that Neal Rovick brought to us.

    That said, I still think it’s interesting that people who think of themselves as “conservative” continue to push back against Romney as the establishment candidate. Of course, doing that makes enthusiasm for Gingrich, who is just as much an establishment candidate as Romney, more than a little puzzling, but only to those for whom facts and reason still have some smidgen of importance.

  10. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/29/2011 - 05:21 pm.

    Ray, if you don’t know what the VRWC is, you shouldn’t be commenting on presidential politics in general and republican presidential politics in particular because you clearly lack the necessary history.

    What distinguishes Gingrich, of course, is that he’s already led one successful revolution. And his alleged baggage will pale in comparison to Obama’s amateur-hour presidency.

  11. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/29/2011 - 08:20 pm.

    I agree; Gingrinch is definitely revolting.

  12. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/30/2011 - 06:59 am.

    With Romney continuing to hitting the 25% ceiling, maybe we’ll see an excellent floor fight at the Republican National Convention.

  13. Submitted by Ann Richards on 11/30/2011 - 09:45 am.

    vrwc- vast right-wing conspiracy

    yeah, if I had been a member of this group I probably wouldn’t want to name the group either. This is the ruthless part of the right wing that operates without a conscience. Break the opposition no matter how ruthless: charging the Clinton’s with murder, jamming opponents phone lines, the smear tactics of swift boat, and the birthing group. Remember that Gingrich was pushing the investigation of Clinton’s indiscretion, at the same time he was having an affair- all part of vrwc. This whole issue about voter fraud and disenfranchisement comes from them. When the leadership of the Republicans in Congress stands up and says that the number 1 job is to make the Pres a 1 term president, than refuse to compromise and work toward governing, how much of that is vrwc? Koch funds much of this work- and Dennis if you want me to give you non-partisan news quotes to back this up, I am not going to do your work for you. A good read on vrwc is David Brock’s Blinded by the Right.

    I would be interested to see if Gingrich gets the same percentage of support among women as men. My guess if that like Cain he gets more support from men. I suspect that more women take family values more seriously than white Republican men (the bulk of early caucus voters)

  14. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/30/2011 - 08:00 pm.

    “I would be interested to see if Gingrich gets the same percentage of support among women as men. My guess if that like Cain he gets more support from men.”

    Now Ann, you should know that the republican party has always been the party of men because men want to be free. Sixty percent of women have always voted democrat because they want to be taken care of. Why do you think the Founding Fathers didn’t want to give them the vote? This country was founded for free men.

    It doesn’t matter who the republican candidate is, 60% of women vote for the democrat. Which says that only 40% of women in our society are self-reliant, low-maintenance women.

    Of course, what does that say about the men who vote democrat? Granted, they’re in the minority, but it does explain David Brock. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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